The win column doesn’t show how well J.P. Sears has pitched for the Charleston RiverDogs this season. And that bothers him.
“Not having any wins is obviously something I’m not happen with, but it lets me know I’m still growing and have some work to do,” the former Citadel standout said just before boarding the team bus for a nine-hour ride to Kentucky to play the Lexington Legends.
Sears’ 0-5 record looks bleak. But a deeper dive into the numbers says different.
His 2.57 ERA is the 13th best in the South Atlantic League, and the second best among starters for the RiverDogs, the low-level Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
The Sumter native missed some time due to injury at the beginning of the season. Still, his 48 strikeouts are the most among starters who have played in as many games as him.
With the first half of the season in the books and the second half just underway, Sears said he’s ready to net some victories for Charleston and help the team secure a playoff slot.
Playoff seeds in Class A baseball are determined by season halves. The Rome Braves clinched one of the Southern Division seeds by finishing the first half in first place.
Now, the RiverDogs will look to do the same in the second half — something they’ve done two years in a row.
“Obviously, that’s the goal for everyone here,” Sears said. “And for me, I’ve never been in a playoff hunt in my professional career. So it’s an exciting time.”
The 5-11, 180-pound lefty was taken by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round of last year’s Major League Baseball Draft. In November, he was part of a trade that sent him to the New York Yankees' organization.
Sears played with two of Seattle’s minor league teams last season in Washington state and Iowa. Through 17 games, he posted a 1-1 record, with a 0.65 ERA and 51 strikeouts.
And through 10 games as a RiverDog, Sears has been throwing pitches in the same ballpark as he did during his years at The Citadel.
The crowd size is bigger, but Sears said he was able to settle in pretty well.
Working with the pitching staff, he said he’s gained more confidence in his off-speed pitches and has learned to work through tough situations on the mound.
“It’s just about pacing myself and preparing for game day,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot on this team in a short amount of time.”
Charleston will remain on the road through its first six games of the second half. The RiverDogs will be back at Riley Park on June 27 to open a three-game series against Rome.